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Returning to Learning: Social-Emotional "Normalcy" In The Time of COVID-19

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

Lately, much has been written about COVID-19 and the fears related to it. None of us can control the situation, except by washing our hands, wearing our masks, and social distancing.

When it comes to our children in school, well, that is a major decision. Many school districts have labored over this important decision, strategizing whether or how to safely open in the new school year. As we ponder the virtual nature of our new world, we all realize the challenges. Again, we are limited to how much we are able to control.

So, let’s take a moment to consider what we do control.

We control how each morning begins and how evening ends for our children. Implementing normal-as-possible routines, getting them to bed for proper amounts of sleep, and then getting them up early to positive engagement and optimism is extremely important.

Although our children are resilient, they take their cues from us.

How are we responding to the everyday changes related to COVID-19? Do we express optimism for a brighter day? Do we still find fun things to engage our children in each day? Do we laugh a lot at home and find ways to bring joy into our daily lives? Do we read together? Do we explore together somewhere we want to travel in our distant future?

According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), talking honestly to our kids about the virus is helpful. Assuring them that we will do everything in our power to keep them safe and well is most important.

Encourage children to write about or draw their feelings on paper or in a journal. Then, follow up this activity with a conversation about their work while continuing to reassure them they are safe.

Staying focused on the positive, remaining consistent with routines, and participating in engaging fun activities will create a sense of normalcy. NASP also encourages that children continually connect to nature and exercise as much as possible. While we all have a tendency to focus on how these changes have impacted us, NASP recommends that it’s also a good time to focus on others who may need to hear positive messages.

Reaching out via letters or even emails to healthcare workers, or older individuals in nursing homes with positive messages could really make their day. These kinds of outreach opportunities connect us to others and to a bigger purpose beyond ourselves.

Finally, we all know that even more love and affection from family members is so important in reassuring our children that we will all get through this together.

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